This year, HIFF will feature special sections on the Philippines and the Vietnam diaspora.
At the HIFF screening, Hawaii native and ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro will give a live performance of his music for the film.
Festival executive director Chuck Boller says HIFF offers foreign visitors the chance to see movies from their home countries not easily viewed because of studio control of theaters.
It's like being at a drive-in, only you're on the beach," says Anderson Le, director of programming for HIFF, adding that "Sunset on the Beach" is so popular, it is even included at the end of some films' trailers.
Besides the screening by the shore, Le says the main draw for out-of-state attendees is seeing films that are difficult to catch outside of countries such as Korea, Japan and the Philippines--which is not to say that HIFF hasn't show American-made films that later became well-recognized, such as 2005's "Brokeback Mountain.
His attendance and participation early on really helped to lend an air of credibility to HIFF," says Michael Tsai, who has covered the festival for the Honolulu Advertiser.
I was completely and utterly flattered that he even bothered to sit through the film, and I was even more blown away that he liked it," says Georgia Lee, writer/director/co-producer of the 2005 HIFF entry "Red Doors," whose profile Ebert raised with a mention in his SunTimes column.
Le says the function of HIFF is to serve as a bridge between East and West, and to promote new talent, especially Asian, to the West.
Quentin Tarantino saw the latter at HIFF, and hired its director, Katsuhito Ishii, to do the animation sequences in "Kill Bill Vol.
While "Open Water" was acquired out of Sundance, Kentis credits the HIFF
for attracting a sales agent.
This year's HIFF -- heavy, as always, with Asian pics -- launches with "Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl," with first-time director Joan Chen in attendance.
He also started charging for tickets -- the first year HIFF had done so.